Archive for January, 2013|Monthly archive page

Understanding massive’s routing

In instrument, ni massive, software, synth on January 12, 2013 at 16:28

Hello folks,

today I’d like to start a small series about Native Instruments Massive – currently one of the most popular virtual synthesizers. Just as many of you I would like to create my own Massive patches, my own distinctive sounds.
There are so many video tutorials. Most of them are step by step tutorials how you get a specific sound. But although Massive is so complex, there are only a few basic introductions. But I think, a fundamental understanding and knowing what’s going on in the background, leads you to good sound design. So let us take a closer look at the routing tab.

Routing tab (red arrow), device and symbol (orange arrow), signal flow (white arrows)

Routing tab (red arrow), device and symbol (orange arrow), signal flow (white arrows)

The routing tab shows the whole circuit diagram of the synth, e.g. the wiring of all elements. After I have shown you some examples, you will understand how the signal flows through the synth. Here is just a taster: Massive has three wavetable oscillators. You find the three symbols OSC 1, 2 and 3 on the left hand side of the routing tab. The oscillators are wired with two filters. The filter outputs are mixed and so on. I think that’s enough for the beginning.


1. Real serial filtering

1. Real serial routing

In the first example I like to route the output from oscillator 1 through filter 1 and after that through filter 2 – the classic serial circuit. Needless to say, the oscillator 1 is switched on. The switch is located at the left of the device title. The lamp light must be blue. The diagram below must be read from top to bottom and from left to right.

Real serial filtering

The fader of OSC 1 is at the top, in order to route the signal only to filter 1. The fader ->F2 at the very top (serial), because filter 2 should get the input signal only from the output of filter 1. The MIX fader is on the very bottom, in order to route only the output of filter 2 to the synth’s output. (By the way, the MIX fader can be in the central position, in case – like in the screenshot – the slider of filter 1 is down.) The white arrows in the upper picture show the flow of the signal.

The next pictures shows how the UI elements and the circuit diagram are related.

Corresponding UI elements and symbols in circuit diagram


1.1 Mixing serial filtering

1.1 Mixed serial routing

But do not let us kid ourselves, the signal flow gets easily more complicated. Just stay at example 1. Real serial filtering and add one signal flow. By pushing up the MIX fader, the output of filter 1 is routed directly to the synth output without running through filter 2. The white arrows in the lower picture show again the flow of the signal and the orange one is new signal flow.

Mixing serial filtering


1.2 Bypassing the filters

If you like to bypass the two filters in order to add a subbass. You can use the Bypass bus.

1.2 Bypassed serial routing

Let’s vary the example 1. Real serial filtering again, in order to get bypassing. I have switched the OSC 3 on and made a kind of trick. I routed the oscillator signal only to filter 2. But the ->F2 fader position shows you, that the signal never will reach filter 2, because of its top position. Maybe you noticed the white B in the circuit diagram (Click it, if it’s not white!). That means, the output of OSC 3 is directly routed to the EQ device. Now there is only one step left. If you switch on and upper the Bypass fader you can hear the output of OSC 3. This approach is generally interessting if want to avoid processing one oscillators.

Bybass the filters


2. Real parallel filtering

In this example I will use two oscillators. Oscillator 1 is routed through filter 1 and oscillator 2 is routed through filter 2 – the classic parallel circuit.

2. Real parallel filtering

The fader of oscillator 1 and 2 are set in that way, that signal of OSC 1 flows through filter 1, and vice versa. The fader ->F2 is at the very bottom, to run the filters in parallel. The two fader of the filter devices are at the top, in order to run their signal to the synth’s output. The fader MIX is in the center position, to mix the oscillators with equal volume. The next pictures shows how the UI elements and the circuit diagram are related.

Corresponding UI elements and symbols in circuit diagram


2.1 Mixing parallel filtering

2.1 Mixed parallel filtering

By pushing up the fader ->F2 a bit, the output of filter 1 is routed into filter 2. So filter 2 is processing the output of OSC 2 and OSC 1 after filtering by filter 1.

That sounds complicated, that’s the reason, why I prefere diagrams. The orange arrow shows the addition signal flow, from filter 1 output to filter 2 input.

Mixing parallel filtering

For the sake of completeness, you can enable more than the bypass (b) in the circuit diagram by clicking on the according symbol: The bypass (B), feedback (FB), inserts 1 and 2 (INS 1 and 2). Apart from the bypass, you can active the device at different places in the diagram. That means you can decide, when signal is routed through the device – for example before or after the filter. Therefore, don’t be surprised, that you won’t hear unplaced devices.

That’s all for day. To be continued. I hope that helps.


Generating drum fills

In ableton, drums, midi on January 1, 2013 at 19:54

Today, I like to generate drum fills with the help of Ableton‘s MIDI effects. My starting point is a drum rack with samples I made and a programmed drum pattern:

The drum beat sounds no so bad, but probably a bit boring. I would like to get something like that:

And here is the way I created this drum variations and fills. First of all I grouped three MIDI effect devices. Ableton‘s Arpeggiator, Randon and Scale.

Generating drum fills - The whole group

Please consult the screenshot for getting the parameter settings. Of course you can’t use all of my Scale device settings. In case you are not familiar with the Scale device, think about a matrix or filter. The horizontal axis represents the incoming MIDI note and the horizontal axis the outgoing MIDI note. Such a filter leaves the notes as they are, if all red squares are building a diagonal from the lower left to the upper right. Enough with theory – I would like to hear only the clap, snare and bass drum when the device is enabled. There is no need to say that the these settings depend on the drum rack. You have to find your own settings.

Generating drum fills - Tuning the scale

The mapping of the macro knobs is a bit tricky. After pressing the Map Mode button you should map the Chance parameter of the Random device to macro one. Then map the device on/off switch of the Arpeggiator and Scale to this knop, too. I like to switch on the Arpeggiator and Scale only, when the chance value is over 50 percent. This is achieved by editing the upper Macro Mappings table. The minimum value should be 64.

Generating drum fills - Random chance

Finally I mapped the Arpeggiator’s Synced Rate to macro knob two and the Style to macro knob three.

Generating drum fills - The arp

So, we are done. Just vary the Random Chance in order to get drum variations and fills like in the example above.

I hope that helps. Happy new year!


2012 in review

In more, wordpress on January 1, 2013 at 10:00

Hurray, the Hear And Know annual-wordpress-report 2012 is done! The numbers are growing. Thank you for your comments. I wish all visitors a happy new year!

Much has happened in 2012. We almost got Ableton Live 9 and Push. I can’t wait to check it out. It was the first time that I tried to create visuals for one of my songs with Resolume Avenue. But this was only the beginning…

The WordPress.com stats helper monkeys prepared a 2012 annual report for this blog.

Here’s an excerpt:

600 people reached the top of Mt. Everest in 2012. This blog got about 5,400 views in 2012. If every person who reached the top of Mt. Everest viewed this blog, it would have taken 9 years to get that many views.

Click here to see the complete report.